WHAT SHALL I DO WITH JESUS?
Dr. W. A. Criswell
5-6-68 7:30 p.m.
Tomorrow night I am preaching on The Great Judgment Day, and the next night, The Unpardonable Sin. And Thursday night, when especially in such tremendous numbers our children will be here, I am preaching on The Way Made Plain. And Friday night, which is significantly dedicated to our young people, I am preaching on Where Can I Find God?
Now tonight the message is a question that the Roman procurator, Pontius Pilate, who was the judge of the Roman court, asked in desperation as he was forced towards some kind of a judicial decision concerning Jesus. And the question is, as the apostle Matthew wrote it in Matthew 27:22, "Pilate sayeth unto them, what shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?" And that question reverberates through the centuries and the ages, and there is no nation but shall confront it, and there is no generation but that must answer it. And there is no home and no life and no individual soul but that shall wrestle with it: What Shall I Do With Jesus Which Is Called Christ?
What shall I do with His words? “Never man spake like that Man” [John 7:46]. He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the Father,” to God, “but by Me" [John 14:16]. He said, "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son hath not life, but the wrath of God abideth upon him" [John 3:36]. What shall I do with His words? “Never man spake like that Man.” He says no man shall see God except in Him [John 6:46].
What shall I do with His life? They who looked upon Him said, "It was never so seen in Israel” [Matthew 9:33]. There never was a life like the life of our Lord; preaching to the poor, extending His hands to the lost, and through the centuries and the centuries, coming down in appealing grace to us today. What shall I do with His life?
What shall I do with His death? "This is My blood," He said, "poured out for the remission of sins" [Matthew 26:28].
Was it for crimes that I have done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! grace unknown!
And love beyond degree.
But drops of grief could ne’re repay
The debt of love I owe;
Here Lord, I give my life away –
‘Tis all that I can do!
["At the Cross," Isaac Watts]
What shall I do with His death? Dying for me that I might be saved, that the stain in my soul might be washed pure and clean.
What shall I do with His resurrection? The living Christ, not buried in some Joseph’s tomb, but raised from the dead? What shall I do with the living Lord? As the sainted apostle John on the isle of Patmos for the patience and testimony of Jesus, and he said:
I heard a great voice, as of a trumpet behind me.
And I turned to see the voice that spake unto me. And being turned, I saw seven golden lampstands;
And in the midst of the seven golden lampstands One like unto the Son of God, clothed with a garment down to the feet, and girt around the breast with a golden girdle.
And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying, Fear not, I am He that liveth, and, behold, I was dead, and I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of hell.
What shall I do with the living Lord?
What shall I do with His coming again? Revelation 1:7, which is the text of the Apocalypse: "Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also who pierced Him: and the families and tribes of the earth did wail because of Him. Even so. Amen." What shall I do in the day when I see Jesus coming again? What shall I do with Jesus which is called Christ?
In this presentation of the Son of God before Pilate, there were five evasions by which he sought to answer his own question. First: as soon as he knew that He belonged unto Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod [Luke 23:7]. That was the first evasion of Pontius Pilate. He sent Jesus to Herod, and he said, "I will do what Herod does. If Herod condemns Him, I condemn Him. If Herod accepts Him, I accept Him. But I will do what Herod does." And so many times do we find that in family life and in friendship circles. "I will do what she does," or "I will do what he does," or "I will do what they do; I will be following somebody else." But that question is not plural, nor is it community, as it is individual and personal: “What shall I do with Jesus which is called Christ?” I am born for myself. I breathe for myself. I shall die for myself – no one can die for me – and I shall be judged for myself. And I must answer this question for myself, “What shall I do with Jesus which is called Christ?”
One of the most unusual things I have seen in my pastorate was the coming of a young woman to whom we had made appeal again and again. And she replied, "But I am waiting on my husband, and I am waiting on my husband, and I’m still waiting on my husband and appealing to him.”
"Well, we shall see," and he, "we shall see" and he "we shall see." And one evening, down the aisle she came forward and gave me her hand. And I said to her, "Turn around, turn around," her husband was immediately following. And when they went home she said to her husband, "I have asked you so many times to come. Why did you not tell me you would come?" And he replied, "Dear, I just wanted you to decide."
However someone else, "I ought to give my life in trust and in commitment to the Lord Jesus. And if I do, how many times will God also give us these for whom we pray and whom we love?" Come, come and God will honor that holy and reverent commitment. It is a personal invitation and it is a personal question. However parent may do, however others may do, finally that question always comes back to us personally, "What shall I do before God with my life and my soul?" I am ever and always personally accountable.
The second evasion of Pontius Pilate: "I will chastise Him; I will scourge Him and release Him” [Luke 23:16]. I will compromise with you concerning Him." And how oft do we find that in the lives of people who face a decision concerning Christ, “I will compromise in it. ‘Preacher, I’ll give up this and I’ll give up that; I’ll give up this, I’ll give up that.’ This thing may not be quite acceptable to God, ‘I’ll give that up.’ Or, ‘This may not be acceptable to God, and I’ll give that up.’ And then, ‘I’ll try to do this, and I will try to do that.'” And instead of accepting Christ and giving our hearts and lives to Jesus, how many times do we compromise it? "I’ll go a little of the way. I’ll do this or I’ll do that."
No! No, the question remains and abides, “What shall I do with Jesus which is called Christ?” All of these things, these things that we think are so vitally, significantly important, for the most part they are minutiae; they are insignificant; they are trivialities. For if our hearts are given to God, ten thousand of other things somehow fade into nothing. The great commitment first is to open my heart, and my soul, and my house, and my home to the blessed Lord Jesus.
The third evasion of Pontius Pilate: he sought to reason out of his dilemma, “And from thenceforth, Pilate sought to release Him” [Luke 23:20-23, Matthew 27:17], and back and forth, in one discussion after another. And I see this so often among young people: they will have sessions and many of them will say, "I would like to talk to you." Several of them did so yesterday. They are in the universities, they’re in the colleges, and they seek by discussion and by speculation and by reason to find someway to deal with Christ.
I am not against a reasonable faith; of all the religions in the world, the faith of Christ is historically conditioned and founded. It can be tested by archaeology, by history, by witnesses that are competent. But there is a commitment that lies in our faith that we cannot escape.
I cannot reason through some things; death is one of them. I cannot reason through some things; the great eternity beyond is among them. And I cannot reason in some things, and one is my propensity to evil and sin. God must help me in my weakness and sin, God must forgive me in my dereliction and wrong; God must save me in the hour of my death, and God must receive me into eternity. I cannot reason; my mind is not equal to the exigencies that inexorably await me. I must find God.
The fourth evasion of Pontius Pilate: a substitution. "You have a custom," he said, "that I should release unto you one at the Passover. Will you, therefore, that I release unto you Jesus or Barabbas?" [John 18:39]. To substitute Barabbas for Jesus, to substitute some other way, some other approach, some other commitment – but God never said some other way. God never spoke of some other approach. God never made some other atonement. The whole Book, the Bible, all of it points to Jesus. There is no other way and there is no other substitute: it is Jesus, alone.
And his last evasion: when Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, "I am innocent of the blood of this just person" [Matthew 27:24], and he washed his hands of it.
Wouldn’t it be simple if the great issues we face in our lives could be done away with by washing our hands? There are responsibilities that we face, there are providences that come upon us that washing our hands of them, hiding our faces from them, provide no escape for our souls.
And Pilate said, "Bring me water." And they brought him water, and he washed his hands, saying, "I will not make a decision. I will not. I will not." But he did, but he did; he inevitably did. He delivered Him to be crucified, and he delivered Him to death.
And when we go out the service this evening, everyone in divine presence will make that same decision: we will either accept Him, and love Him, and crown Him, and adore Him, and believe in Him, and trust Him, or we will reject Him, and deny Him, and say no to Him, but we cannot wash our hands of Him.
Many of you have been in Lucern, Switzerland. There is a large mountain at base of which Lucern is built. It’s called Mt. Pilatus, Mt. Pilate. And when I was there the first time long, long years ago, I asked the people there, "Now that is a strange thing that this big mountain by the side of this beautiful city should be name Mt. Pilatus? Why would you call it Mt. Pilatus? Mt. Pilate." And then they reminded me of a legend that had continued through the centuries and the centuries and the centuries; Pontius Pilate, the Roman procurator of Judea and the judge at this court before whom Jesus stood, Pontius Pilate was later recalled by the Roman government, and in disgrace he took his life, he committed suicide. And they finally buried his body in the depths of Lake Lucern, and they named that mountain there for Pilate. And through the centuries and the centuries, those peasants say that in the gray mist of the evening, you can see Pilate rise from the depths of the lake and wash his hands in that clear blue water.
We cannot escape this decision! I will either accept the Lord, or reject Him. I will crown the Lord, or crucify Him. I will open my heart to receive Him, or I will shut Him out. I shall do one or the other.
The reason we are here tonight, the reason we have prayed tonight and the reason we have encouraged you to come tonight is, in God’s grace and goodness and mercy, that tonight you would accept the Lord Jesus. “I will open my heart to the blessed God, and He shall be welcome in my heart. I shall open my home to the precious and blessed Jesus, and He shall be welcome in our home. And I shall rear my children in the love and nurture of the blessed Lord Jesus.” And if I am somebody single, “I will pray God to bless my life where I work in the companions that I choose. And in His grace if I ever have a home, I will ask God to give me a Christian home.” And if you are a child, “Tonight, I give God not only the love and trust of my soul but I give God also the whole days and years of my life.”
What shall I do with Jesus? I shall accept Him. I shall love Him. I shall trust Him, and I shall commit my life to Him now with all that I love and have. And in the hour of my death, I shall look for dying grace from His gracious hands, and in heaven someday, I hope to see you again. This will I do with Jesus tonight, now, tonight.
And as we sing this hymn of appeal, a family you, come. Husband, take your wife by the hand, and both of you come. Do you have children? Bring them with you. "Pastor, this is my wife and these are our children, all of us are coming tonight." They may be so small they do not quite understand what it is to feel the burden of sin. But they will know what it is when you bring them, and kneel by them and commit your life and home to God. A family you, come; a couple you, come. One somebody you, come. As God shall press the appeal to your heart, come, come. Do it now, as you are sitting where you are, "I make that decision now, pastor." Then when you stand up in a moment, stand up, coming. Into that aisle and down to the front, down one of these stairwells on either side, and to the pastor, "Pastor, I give you my hand. I have given my heart in trust to God." On the first note of the first stanza, do it, and God bless you and angels attend you in the way, while we stand and while we sing.
SHALL I DO WITH JESUS?
I. What shall I do with Jesus which is
called Christ? (Matthew 27:22)
A. With His words? (John 3:18, 36, 6:46, 7:46, 11:25-26,14:16, Luke 13:3,
1 John 5:12)
B. With His life?(Matthew 9:33, Luke 19:10)
His death? (Mark 15:39, Matthew 26:28, 27:54,
His resurrection? (Revelation 1:10-18, John
II. Five evasions of Pilate
what somebody else does – Herod (Luke 23:4-7, 11)
B. Compromising(Luke 23:13-16, Isaiah 64:6)
C. Reasoning(Luke 23:14, 20-23, Matthew 27:17, John 18:30-31, 38,
D. Substitution –
Barabbas(Matthew 27:17-21, John 18:38-40)
E. Washed his hands –
refused to give an answer(Matthew 27:24)
III. We cannot escape the decision
A. Accept or reject Him
B. We cannot wash our
hands of Him